On tour in China and Singapore

25 October 2017 / News

Helene Pohl reports from China, where the NZSQ is currently on tour

As you read this, we'll have just stepped off the plane in Shanghai for the first leg of our tour to China and Singapore! This tour will include recitals and mini-residencies at universities/music conservatories in Hangzhou, Chengdu, Beijing and Singapore, as well as a concert at the beautiful Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing.

First stop is Hangzhou, where NZSM alumnus Shen Nalin is Professor of Composition at the Zhejiang Conservatory. This recently established music academy is situated on a huge brand new campus serving thousands of students who cover the gamut of music degrees: Western, Chinese, jazz, musical theatre and opera performance, composition and musicology. We first went there in 2015 for the Body Music conference, a whole conference devoted to the legacy of Jack Body, his music, and his ethnomusicological research. Under the auspices of the conservatory's first International Chamber Music Festival, we’ll give two concerts, work with student chamber groups, judge a chamber music competition and read student compositions.

The next stop is our first visit to Chengdu in Szechuan Province, which is known as one of the premier foodie destinations in China (we know what we’ll be doing in our spare time!). The Szechuan Conservatory is also known as one of the premier music schools in that vast country. As well as performing a formal concert there, we will be involved with the prestigious Sun River Prize Composition Competition (judged in 2017 by Zhou Long), and will read student works.

Beijing is our next destination, where we spent 3 weeks in 2013 rehearsing and recording with the Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra. We will be in residence at Capital Normal University, where our friend, composer Gao Ping, who spent seven years in New Zealand teaching at Canterbury University, is on staff.  We will give a concert and master class at the university as part of the National Conference for Higher Music Education and Music Research, and will again read student compositions. We'll also perform in a fundraising concert co-presented by the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing and Pop-Up Beijing, an award-winning boutique store co-owned by expat New Zealander Glenn Schuitmann. But I imagine the highlight of the tour will be our concert in one of Beijing’s foremost venues, the Forbidden City Concert Hall. 


Forbidden City


The programmes for the concerts include music by New Zealand composers Gareth Farr, Jack Body, and Gillian Whitehead, Chinese composers Zhou Long and Gao Ping, and old masters Schubert and Beethoven. In the readings of student compositions we are looking forward to seeing what the next generation of Chinese composers are up to - in our experience the incorporation of Chinese traditional elements into Western art music is one of the most beautiful and fertile cross-fertilizations in contemporary composition.

On our way home from Beijing we are stopping off in Singapore for two days to play a concert, give a master class, and coach chamber music ensembles at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, part of the National University of Singapore. It will be fun to visit Monique’s alma mater and see what is going on there! If she’s any indication, it will be pretty impressive!

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